A three-sport star at Ariton with a baseball first name, Maddux Herring has always had a special love for sports, but especially the spring and summer one of baseball.
On Wednesday, the Purple Cat senior signed to play that sport at the college level, inking with Enterprise State Community College in a ceremony at Ariton High’s new gymnasium.
Herring, whose first name is partly in honor of Major League Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, but also for former Troy head football coach Robert Maddox, played football, basketball and baseball at Ariton. He was a quarterback/linebacker in football and a shooting guard and point guard in basketball. However, he will play college in the sport he loves the most, baseball.
“I feel good,” Herring said after signing in front of family and friends. “I have always been looking forward to doing this signing. It was delayed (by the coronavirus), so it felt great (to finally sign).”
A left-handed pitcher who also played first base and outfield during his career at Ariton, Herring said he really liked Boll Weevil head coach Bubba Frichter and the Enterprise campus.
“I fell in love with Enterprise right from the start and it’s close to home,” Herring said.
He expects to pitch at ESCC and might also play some outfield and hit some.
Ariton head coach Logan Dunlap said the Boll Weevils are getting a quality person as well as quality player.
“He is a great kid with a great work ethic who comes from a great family and has a great support system,” Dunlap said. “He will do the right thing, that is the biggest thing. He will be where he is supposed to be.”
In addition, Dunlap said Herring is a valuable leader, another strong trait that he will take to ESCC, and is a multi-talent baseball player.
“His work ethic speaks for itself,” Dunlap said. “He was definitely a leader for our program, not just on the mound, which is what he has been known for, but in other areas. He is extremely versatile.
“I think Enterprise is getting a real gem from the standpoint that he is not just a pitcher, but can play in the field — he can play first and play the outfield. They are getting somebody that is multi-talented at several positions and has the ability to lead a program.”
Herring was hitting his stride this past spring for the Purple Cats when the season was halted by the coronavirus in mid-March. In 17 games, he was hitting .400 (20 hits in 50 at bats) with three doubles, one homer and 21 runs batted in.
As a pitcher, he was 3-0 with one save in four appearances. He allowed only four runs and had a 1.50 earned run average. He struck out 30 in 18 2/3 innings with 11 walks, and opponents hit only .192 against him.
As a junior, he hit for a .378 batting average (42-of-111) with a .536 on-base percentage, nine doubles, three home runs, 39 runs batted in and 28 runs scored over 40 games. He was 7-5 on the mound with one save. He struck out 64 batters in 54 2/3 innings.
While Herring is a versatile player, Dunlap said pitching is the star player’s forte.
“His biggest value is on the mound for sure, being left-handed and having the velocity he can reach,” Dunlap said, noting Herring was in the 86-87 miles per hour range during the past season. “I still think there is velocity there that is not tapped into yet.”
Dunlap added Herring isn’t just a fastball pitcher, but one who could get hitters out with a breaking ball and a change-up too.
“He mixes it up well,” Dunlap said. “He throws three pitches for strikes and that is big.”
Herring agrees pitching is his strength in baseball. He credited others for his success in that area.
“I have had great coaches help me with my mechanics,” Herring said. “I finally understand how to pitch and really understand the game.”
Having signed to play baseball, Herring will now focus on one sport instead of playing three as he did at Ariton. He feels it will benefit him in college.
“I can work on stuff I haven’t been able to work on in the past because I had to go workouts in the morning, play football (in the fall) then I had basketball and baseball (in winter and spring). It got tough. Now I can focus on one and really develop,” Herring said.
Dunlap feels Herring will blossom because of that.
“It will be exciting to see how he will progress now that he is focusing only on baseball,” Dunlap said. “He doesn’t have football in the fall and basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. Now, he is baseball all year around so for his development, the sky is the limit.”